Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Your Columbus Blue Jackets 2013 Quote of the Year

"What we've got to do is continue to build our fan base.  We can't just have our hand out to the league.  The season-ticket base is key.  We have to continue to build it, and it would be a hell of a lot easier to do if we play better."

- John Davidson, President of Hockey Operations, Columbus Blue Jackets
as quoted in the Columbus Dispatch (December 12, 2013 edition)

All joking and snark aside, at least Davidson talks like He Gets It.  Here's hoping that selling season tickets becomes a lot easier in Columbus over the months and years ahead.

Happy 2014, everyone!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 39: Penguins

Still on the road, so graphics are limited
Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets slugged it out with the Pittsburgh Penguins for 50 minutes.  Unfortunately, the game was 60 minutes, and the Penguins pulled away in the last half of the third period to win 5-3, powered by a James Neal hat trick and a productive powerplay.  The CBJ scored a late 'we ain't quitting goal' but the better team prevailed tonight.  This game has little bearing on the ultimate outcome of the CBJ's season, and should be regarded as such.

I'm still on the road, and the DBJ is experimenting on harboring exotic bugs in his body in some fanatical post holiday weight loss scheme known as 'stomach flu'.  So we're still limping through these write ups, especially with the graphics.  Please be patient.  

Instead of the 6-pack graphic I have
provided this nifty shot of
Sidney Crosby showing off his
Movember mustache.  Pretty cool huh?
1. My first cold, frosty CBJ beer for tonight goes to development, particularly the development of Ryan Johansen and Ryan Murray.  Coach Todd Richards matched them up against the Crosby line all night long, and this is great experience for them moving forward.  These are the guys that will be responsible for closing the gap between these teams, if it is to be closed at all, so they might as well get used to it.  Overall, they did not do too badly with the assignment.  Joey was - 2 on the night, but Murray was even in +/- with a whopping 24:40 of ice time tonight.  At one point Bob McElligott commented that Crosby left the ice none to happy with Johansen.  That's a good thing, though the ice did tilt Pittsburgh's way soon thereafter.

2. My second cold, tasty, CBJ beer goes to Corey Tropp.  Being as I am on the road, and visiting, when dinner hits the table I need to go, so I missed the second half of the second period.  It was really sweet to come back down and find the game tied after two periods.  Kind of amazing that he has a +/- of 3, especially since he took a penalty that resulted in a Pittsburgh powerplay goal.  But hey, there it is.  He has been playing better and better of late, which is really helpful.  But in Richie's post game interview he indicated that he expected a guy who was getting more comfortable with the system and the guys in the room to be playing better.  Pressure to perform is a good thing for these guys, and Tropp is supplying it to the rest of the role players.  Well done tonight Corey.

3.  My third delicious, savory CBJ beer, is a playoff hunt beer.  This team remains in the hunt, 2 points out of  a three way tie for the third spot in the Metropolitan, 5 points out of the Metropolitan wild card slot, and 7 points out of second in the Metro.  This could happen a lot of different ways, and this is going to be fun to watch down the stretch.  As comparison, the Nashville Predators have exactly the same number of points we have, and they are a hefty 9 points out of a playoff spot in the ultracompetitive Western Conference.  I take a big slurp of this beer out of gratitude for being in the East.  Think that over the next time you consider booing Bettman, or at least consider letting other people do that for you, because they will.  

4.  My fourth beer goes to Brandon Dubinsky.  Dubi got us on the board early, scoring the first goal of the game.  Problematically, we gave up a goal less than a minute later on the power play from the Tropp tripping penalty.  Dubinsky could have been the hero and the first star if he would have buried one of his chances early in the second period when the CBJ were skating the Pens off the ice.  The net was open, but we repeatedly missed it.  Dubi seemed really engaged early in this game, but didn't seem to show up much in the radio broadcast commentary late, perhaps because of the amount of time spent killing penalties.  I'd have a better feel for his performance if I'd have had a chance to see it, and my assessment may be off base.  

5.  My fifth beer of the evening goes to the House of Hickory, in Nashville, Tenn.  This is seriously good barbeque folks.  Urp.   And they ship!  Let me know and I'll post their website.  

6.  My sixth, warm, flat, Natty light, found rolling around in the back of the jeep, a leftover from a round of golf last summer, goes to the Pens fans.  This was a bottom line game for us.  Your money, helping our bottom line.  Hope you enjoyed the show.

At the end of the day, the Penguins are among the leagues elite, and we are not.  The better team won tonight.  As Richie said in his post game presser, the CBJ cracked under the pressure first.  Crosby is a helluva player, and Murray is still a rookie.  The Pens are starting to get people back from injury, we're still depleted, but will get help soon.  The next time these teams meet, the game may mean a lot more to the CBJ, as we will be in a different phase of the playoff hunt, for better or worse.  But, this was a brick game, with our young players tasked with keeping the Pens stars in check.  And learning to do so is definitely a process, so this was a step.  

Now the CBJ take to the road, but so far their brand of hockey has been pretty portable.  We'll see how this one goes starting on New Year's Eve in Colorado.


Saturday, December 28, 2013

There will be days like this: Game 38, Devil Wrenches

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the New Jersey Devils (aka Devilwrenches, check the logo) 2-1 in a shoot out.  Both teams take a point, but the CBJ take two, which leaves us in what is essentially a 4 way tie for the third spot in the Metro conference, a guaranteed playoff berth.  In the hunt, with reinforcements on the way.  This is shaping up to be one fun hockey season.

We're kind of limping into this one.  The DBJ is diligently trying to recreate the Christmas vacation movie.  Last I heard, the garbage disposal went down last night late.  Remember, no smoking near the sewer!  On the personal front, I'm down in Predators land, visiting with the in-laws.  You may not believe this, but the local TV barons are not scrambling to put the CBJ games on the tube down here.  So basically, I'm working off of Bob McElligott's dulcet tones from the radio broadcast.

Earlier this week we conducted a little reader poll, and the results were unanimous.  We will be bringing back the six-pack review for the rest of the hockey season.  A couple of things we'd like you to keep in mind.  The six-packs are more work for us.  Since we do this for fun, there will be times when circumstances just throw things in the crapper.  Like, say, today.  So we don't promise perfection, but we aim to please, so we'll see how it goes.  With that...

To me, for being a Boomer, and
forgetting to put the six pack graphic
on a thumb drive so I could use it on the road.
1.  Our first CBJ beer for last night's game goes to Curtis McElhinney.  Ya, ya, I know.  Brodeur is a legend.  But McElhinney stood tall in the shoot out, and shut them down for a huge extra point.  CMac and Mike McKenna have stepped up huge for the CBJ.  When Bobrovski went down, it served to focus the team, and CMac and McMac have done a great job of filling in. The job they have done has long term ramifications, such as not feeling you have to rush Bob back to save a season that is in the death spiral.  The team has tightened up its play for sure, but the goal tenders have done a good job of taking care of business in the crease.  This one's for you boys!

2.  Our second CBJ beer goes to Cam Atkinson, for assisting on the initial goal, and then scoring the only goal in the shoot out.  Cam has been bringing steady play of late, and is starting to fulfill the promise he has of being a good NHL player.  I wonder where his ceiling is?  With 10G-10A-20P Cam is part an ever increasing number of BlueJackets in double digits for goals this year.  That depth is great to have as we get into a stretch where play is going to ramp up.  The Jackets need to match that, and scoring depth is a good way to do it.

3. My third CBJ beer goes to Arty Anisimov.  I really thought he had a quiet early season, and played a role in some of the teams early struggles.  He seems to have solidified his game, and the offensive touch has emerged.  Scoring the first goal by jumping on a rebound, and roofing it over a sprawling Brodeur, Arty has put together a string of really solid games.  Atta boy Arty.

4.  My fourth CBJ beer goes to the Columbus Blue Jackets iPad app, which is really awesome if you are on the road and want to catch the game.  They have added the radio feed to it, and it has a function where you can follow the game, with players coming on, and a text version of significant events.  Coupled with McElligott's radio broadcast, it is a great way to take in the game if you are traveling.

5. My fifth CBJ beer is a bit of a weird one.  It goes to Jody Shelly.  Because Jody really only made a very short stop on the radio broadcast, before muscling in to help with the TV production.  Nice Jody!  Way to go.  He is pretty smooth, and has some good insights to the game.  He is a boost to either of the productions.

6.  My sixth CBJ beer goes to our readers.  Thanks for sticking with it, and thanks for letting us know your thoughts.  You keep this fun.

A day late, a dollar short, but in the books nonetheless.  Here's wishing you an enjoyable playoff race, 'cause we got one of them, you know!


Friday, December 27, 2013

In praise of the Christmas holiday break

"December 24, Christmas Day, and December 26 shall be off-days for all purposes, including travel, and no Club may request a Player's consent to practice on such days for any reason, provided, however, if December 26 falls on a Saturday and the League has scheduled NHL Games on such date, December 23 may be substituted as an off-day for all purposes, including travel, instead of December 26."
That's Article 16.5(b) of the newly-agreed to NHL-NHL Players Association collective bargaining agreement.  And I think it's great.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

A Motion on the Table

Happy Holidays Blue Jackets Fans!  Here we sit, with the NHL shut down for the holiday, with nothing to do except eat, visit with family, and watch the NBA <shudder>.  Well, it turns out that there is one we can do during this down time.  Share a little bit of input on what you want to see in the blog.

Every year as the season approaches (well, except maybe last year which was a mad scramble), we carefully consider what type of product to put on the table for the season.  We do this for fun, but we don't want it to get stale, so we try new things.

We don't really want to get in the business of writing a recap. There are already several excellent recaps of each game produced on other blogs.  We don't need to recreate the wheel.  So we thought for this year, we would share our thoughts and perspective, and finish up with a little Haiku.  Something creative, and to keep us thinking.

However, earlier this week, with the most exacting political correctness, and great sensitivity to our finer feelings, the old grouch left us a comment:

Can we dump the game haikus? Bad idea. Bring back the six packs.

Well then.  You can't say we don't listen.  So I thought while we were killing time, waiting for the puck to drop again, we'd take a little survey to see if our readers agreed.  So if you don't mind, leave your thoughts in the comments, and shape the future of your reading pleasure.

The six-pack format was from a former blogger 'Light the Lamp'.  Along with entertaining us with some true snark, lots of good commentary, and some real original and funny thoughts, Light the Lamp originated the game 6-pack format.  Well, LTL withdrew from the fray, partly due to the soul crushing weight of the Arniel years, as well as to some increased time demands brought on by the presence of a wee one.  Last year, he graciously donated his format of doing the six pack after the game, as well as the graphic that goes with it.  To give you a feel for the format, I did the last game commentary in the six pack format.  

So what do you think?  If you've got the time and inclination, drop your thoughts on us, and we'll think it over for the rest of the season going forward.  Keep in mind we do this for fun.

Thanks as always for reading, and leaving us good comments.  You always make me think, so that's a good thing.


Monday, December 23, 2013

Christmas Thoughts on Game 37: Hurricanes

Tonight the Columbus Blue Jackets exploded for 2 goals late in the third period to tie, and ultimately beat, the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3 in an important Metropolitan Division tilt.  This was a game of counter punching, and the CBJ took their fair share of them.  But in the second half of the third period, Jack Skille took what was termed as a bad penalty by the broadcast team.  I think that penalty was a turning point in the game, as Skille blew up Tuomo Ruutu who had just hit Tyutin from behind, and hurt him.  Other than the fact that it was purely and completely interference, Skille laid a perfectly clean hit on Ruutu and knocked him on his a**.  That penalty kill, for a penalty taken to police some liberties taken with a teammate, gave the CBJ the momentum they rode to the win.  Mike McKenna made some key saves down the stretch, and the CBJ get two huge points.
Back by popular demand...

For tonight, I thought I would acquiesce to a reader comment and do a 6 pack for tonight.  We'll invoke democratic processes later in the dead zone over the break.

1. My first, cold frosty, CBJ six pack beer goes to all of us involved in following, supporting, cheering for, managing, playing for and coaching the Columbus Blue Jackets.  Merry Christmas to us!! The CBJ sit at the Christmas Break firmly entrenched in the playoff race.  If you had asked Jarmo and JD on October 1st if they could live with amazing injuries, but still being in the race at Christmas they would have knocked you down in their rush to take the offer.  A total credit to the players, who have laid some real ostrich eggs, but have always responded with good play to those bad games.

2. My next, silky smooth, Sam Adams Christmas Lager goes to passing, which the CBJ showed in abundance.  It was the passing of a team that has been to the wars, and seen a lot of things, but they knew where their team mate would be.  Atkinson, Foligno, and Anisimov all made passes that were a thing of beauty, all of which lead to goals.  At this point in the season, everyone has established who passes and who shoots.  Earlier they tried to make another pretty pass.  At this stage of the year, they are content to take the pretty pass and put in on net.  Funny how those make goals.

Jack Skille
3. My third beer of the six pack, is a Gordon Biersch Winter Bock, of which a couple will make you dizzy, in honor of Jack Skille's game tonight.  Jack just laid the wood to Ruutu after he hit Tyutin from behind, and left him hurting.  Clean hit on Ruutu, but he definitely lowered the boom.  The penalty kill on the ensuing interference penalty on Skille just fired the team up.  Ultimately, this lead to Anisimov laying an unbelievable, behind the back pass to Skille's tape which he promptly buried in the top corner of the goal for the game winner.  A great effort by Skille tonight, whom is playing like a man with something to prove.  And that's a good thing for the CBJ.

4. My next CBJ beer, a sweet, smooth Scottish from Barley's, goes to Mike McKenna.who backstopped the CBJ to this win in lieu of Curtis McElhinney whose back tightened up before the morning skate.  McKenna picked up his first win in a CBJ sweater, and once again did a pretty solid job when getting called on in short order.  Realistically, the goal tending since Bobrovski went down is pretty much all you could have hoped for.  When the team in front of it was laying an egg, the goal tending didn't look too good.  When the team played well, it's been good enough to keep them in the game.

5. My next CBJ beer, a nice raucous tall boy from the R-Bar, goes to Corey Tropp, who scored the second goal with a 'time to go to the net' crash, that resulted in a rebound goal.  He has really been coming hard, and his play is going to a new level.  This is looking like a nice acquisition by Jarmo that puts a lot of pressure on our role players to produce.  Which is having great results.  Nice job tonight Corey, and congratulations on your first goal with the CBJ.

6. My sixth and last beer, a nice big, expensive Arena Tallboy, goes to Ryan Johansen for taking that next step.  Dang.  When he got that puck from Foligno, you just knew he was going to score.  The thing that is interesting is to watch how confident he is when talking to the press after the game.  Joey is taking it to another level as we watch, and what a fine Christmas present that is!  Well done Ryan, well done indeed.

The CBJ come into the 3 day Christmas break on a bit of a roll despite laying an egg in Philly.  They are 6-3-1, assured of a winning record in December, and firmly entrenched in the playoff race.  Nathan Horton and Sergei Bobrovsky will be rejoining the line up over the next two weeks.  Organizational depth has been tested, and is proving sound.  That is totally a credit to Brad Larsen, and the job he is doing in promoting a winning culture in Springfield.  Thanks to all the players and coaches doing such a great job in Springfield.

More importantly I wish a happy holiday to the coaches and players of the Columbus Blue Jackets.  They have proved hard working and pugnacious so far this year.  That is a credit to their character.  Thanks for a fun early season.  The pace ratchets up from here.

And finally, to close, all of us here at the Dark Blue Jacket would like to wish you all a happy, prosperous, and enjoyable Christmas Holiday.  I won't say peaceful, because some of the gang here have young children.


Sunday, December 22, 2013

DBJ mails in a recap for CBJ Game 36: Philadelphia

Columbus 6 - Philadelphia 3
Returning to the Jekyll and Hyde team of November, the Columbus Blue Jackets laid into the visiting Philadelphia Flyers tonight, beating Philly by a score of 6-3 in regulation and exorcising a number of demons from Game 35 in the process.

Give me points for honesty: I didn't watch the game all that closely.  Yes, it was on.  Yes, I poked my head up to watch a little here and there.  Yes, my house was filled with rampaging children as some of my in-laws made a weekend youth travel hockey road trip to Central Ohio and were kind enough to stop by and drop off some Christmas presents.

So as the Blue Jackets were laying the proverbial lumber to the Flyers, I was assembling the Dark Blue Kiddo's brand-new FIVE LEVEL TOY CAR PARKING GARAGE.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

So DBJ caught CBJ game 35: Philadelphia

Philadelphia 5 - Columbus 4
The Columbus Blue Jackets opened a five-game stretch of crucial Metropolitan Division games by playing a strong opening 40 minutes of hockey, building up a 3-0 lead after two periods in Philadelphia.  The CBJ then proceeded to crash and burn in epic fashion, giving up five goals in the third period en route to a 5-4 loss to the host Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Morgan watches Game 34 vs The Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets 3 - Columbus Blue Jackets 2

It was a game filled with more aviation cliches than an Iron Eagle reunion tour at the Air Force Museum in Dayton.  There were more hashtags and tweets about grounding, no-flying, and shooting down the visiting Jets than a Monday night on twitter should see.  But in the end, *puts on sunglasses* it was the Blue Jackets who were slow to get off the ground.  They never really left the hangar until late in the game.  The offense really screwed the pooch.  As expected in any poorly played CBJ game, the refs caught more flak than a LeMay formation on a bombing sortie over Germany.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

So DBJ caught Game 33: St. Louis

St. Louis 4 - Columbus 3 (OT)
The Columbus Blue Jackets blew the doors off of the visiting St. Louis Blues in the first period with three unanswered goals but let off the gas as the game wore on, allowing the Blues to sneak by the CBJ, 4-3, in overtime at Nationwide Arena.

McKenna, Hitch, Storylines Within Storylines

Mike McKenna in Training Camp
Today General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen's contribution to the 2013-14 Columbus Blue Jackets comes to the fore.  After signing Curtis McElhinney to a one way contract, he surveyed the scene and was dissatisfied with goal tending depth.  So he went out and signed Mike McKenna and Jeremy Smith to be the tandem in AHL in Springfield.  With Bobrovsky and McElhinney on the shelf with injuries, McKenna and Smith need to carry the mail in a playoff chase (albiet early and in a sorta faltering, roller coaster way).  With the CBJ one point out of playoff position, each point at this juncture is key.

The Columbus Dispatch and the CBJ have reported a great deal about the intrigue of this story, how McKenna grew up in St. Louis, and his family's influence on hockey in St. Louis.  Good stuff, you should check it out.

Jeremy Smith in Training Camp
The other part of the tandem, Jeremy Smith has some local ties as well.  The CBJ Press release noted that Smith had backstopped the Cincinnati Cyclones to a Kelly Cup Championship in the ECHL.  It turns out that I got to see one of those playoff games when my son was at UC.  Smith has won in Ohio before, and we hope he keeps that up if he gets the call up here.

We've been here before.  In the disastrous 2011-12 season we had plan C in the goal in the form of Curtis 'The Sandman" Sanford, and plan D on the bench in the form of Allen York. And lo and behold, plan D, ends up in goal for eleven games that season.  The uncertainty at goal tender contributed to the tail spin that derailed the 2011-12 campaign early in the year.  McKenna and Smith have an opportunity to do better than that.  And I think that the team in front of them is playing much better.  So best of luck to these guys, and we will see what happens.

Because tonight the CBJ face a formidable opponent, Coach Ken Hitchcock's St. Louis Blues.  The Blues already have 20 wins in this season, and are playing at a very high level.  They will certainly be a big test for the young CBJ, and could well be the best team in the NHL this year.  You have treat these guys like you are playing Boston, and expect a 'heavy' game.  Yes, that a Hitchcock saying.  And yes, I am going to proceed to indulge myself by devoting the rest of this post to Hitch.  Oh, sorry, the Jack Adams Award winning, Coach Ken Hitchcock.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Why This Team Drives Us Crazy

If you've been a Jackets fan for more than a couple years then you're pretty much used to losing. You're used to looking for nuggets of hope in names like Norrena, Picard, Brule, and Novotny. (That's right, Jiri Novotny played for us, remember that? Me neither.)

Every now and then we get a sniff of success and we don't know what to do with ourselves. One trip to the playoffs in team history, and it ended quickly and brutally at the hands of the Wings. Then last season happened. The Jackets went on a tear and just missed. So, what are we fans to do? Expect that to happen again, of course.

Then October happened. What a mess. Our fan expectations took it right on the chin. The 5-6 record compiled in October was far from the 11-0 we expected. OK, maybe we expected a more realistic 10-1. (But that 1 sure as hell wasn't going to be against the [expletive] Flames on opening night!)

Calendar flips to November...THUD. Drop the first four games. Ouch.

By November 7th most of us were expecting 15-0 (or 14-1), to have pummeled the Pens twice, a win over the Rangers, Jack Johnson to have rag dolled Rick Nash, and be sitting atop the Metro division laughing at the pitiful Eastern Conference.

Instead, we woke up on November 8th and our beloved Jackets were 5-10-0, got shutout by the Pens at home, lost to the Rangers (Nash was out with a concussion so no rag dolling), and we were one point out of the basement of the Metro...the now worst division in the NHL. Oh, the prideful times we Jacket fans were enjoying.

After that Ranger game, things started to turn just a little. Got some points in 5 straight games. Then our roller coaster section of...

We're awesome!!

Fire Richards!!

We're unstoppable!!

Fire Richards!!


Why does Richards still have a job?!?!?

Wash, rinse, repeat until...

Welcome to December.

"Good day and welcome to Day 12"

The Men of The Neon Bug have opened the month with a solid 4-1 record. And what's that? Expectations are again on the rise! Not quite to Post-April level of expectations, but things are starting to feel a lot more like last spring than like, say, 2006.

In the meantime we managed to lose Bob, Gabby, and Boll to injury. Dubinsky was out for a stretch, Calvert was missing for a while, and we have yet to see Horton. That is only going to feed those expectations as we move thru December. Many of us are thinking, "We're winning without those guys, what will it be like when they return?"

Here's what we'll be like...if we continue to forecheck like we have the last 5 games, and during the peaks of The Roller Coaster Stretch, we'll be fine. We'll be better than fine, we'll win more often than we lose. We're the youngest team in the NHL (tired of that one yet?), and we have speed. A lot of speed. When the Jackets use that youth and speed, they're fun to watch. When the boys in blue sit back and wait on the opponent to beat them, the opponent will oblige.

So, why does this team drive us crazy? Because we know that they can play solid, winning hockey. We saw it last spring, and we're starting to see it again now. This season is starting to shape up eerily like last season...horrible start, strong but not quite winning play in the middle...and now? Time for the unbelievable finish?

Parting Stat

A friend of mine once said, "The goal differential doesn't lie." And over the course of a season, he's usually right. Sure, there will be a few that will be swapped, but they'll be within a couple goals of each other. For the most part, the goal differential does indeed reflect the standings by the end of the season. Here's the standings as of right now...

Now while you're looking at the goal differential, throw out the game in Edmonton on November 19th.

Let's go Jackets.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Game 32: CBJ v NYR - A Tale of Three Periods

Columbus Blue Jackets 4 - New York Rangers 2

Tonight's Blue Jackets game against the New York Rangers had more story lines than a football program under NCAA investigation.  Lots of things swirling around this game:  Rick Nash's first game against the CBJ, Dubinky's return to MSG, and Derek Brassard's butt hurt.  In today's needlessly emotional climate of who wins and who loses, who's right and who's wrong - this game carried lots of weight with fans over who "won" the trade.  Seriously, who wins trades?  Is that another advanced stat?  To me, this game was about the cancer that once was in the Blue Jackets dressing room lead by Scott Arniel now doing their thing in Madison Square Garden.  It was also a night for a NYR fan favorite to return to the Big Apple.  And there was a needless amount of talk about the newly renovated MSG.  A hundred gajillion zillion dollar renovation and I'm sure the 34th street subway terminal right around the corner still smells like a dirty urinal that someone vomited in. Speaking of 34th Street, if you ever get a chance to see a game in NYC, get off the E (maybe it's the F...) at 34th and stop over at B&H Photo first.  It's an awesome place, but I digress.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 31: Devilwrenches

This commercial will run for 15 seconds.  Press this button >< to end the commercial.

Crosby-Malkinitis.  Yes, it's an ugly, fungus-like, infection.  Even with effective medication it may last up to 23 minutes into the following game.  For treatment of Crosby-Malkinitis, try Crash-the-netisone, a new wonder drug from CBJ industries.  Find the energy late in the game!  Talk to your pharmacist about Crash-the-netisone!  Side effects may include tired legs, bruising, slashing, gross abuse of the English language, including naughty words like 'That's farthing bullseals ref!!', as well as game misconducts and 'well we played hard but we lost' .>< >< >< 

The CBJ and particularly the Johansen line, (Joey, Umby, and Fellini for Morgan) had a bad case of Crosby-Malkinitis going into tonight's game against New Jersey.  Fortunately, Dubinsky, Atkinson, and Calvert were in the back of the bus (i.e. plane) popping Crash-the-netisone for tonight's game.  New Jersey pretty much skated the CBJ off the ice in the first 23 minutes of the game.  The huge fortune was that we were only down 2-1 after the first period.  The Jackets goal came off a nice rush by Atkinson, who dished a marginal pass to Dubinsky on the boards, who dug it out and flung it on net.  Cam was backing into the crease when the rebound off Brodeur (pronounced 'Hall of Fame') bounced into the net.  A good imitation of last night's goal by Crosby.

But after New Jersey scored early in the second to make it 3-1, the CBJ scored twice in a minute at about the 5 minute mark in the second, to make it a 3-3 game.  This flurry was all about the Dubinsky, Atkinson, Calvert line, which pretty much carried the team for the whole second period.  Really excellent effort by all three players.  Even better, at a time when the best line, Johansen's line, didn't have it, they stepped up and owned the game.  That means we have a 1-2 punch.  And sure enough that's how the game worked out.

Monday, December 9, 2013

So DBJ watched CBJ game 30: Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh 2 - Columbus 1
The Columbus Blue Jackets took their show on the road to the Consol Energy Center and fell to the host Pittsburgh Penguins tonight in regulation, 2-1.

I've come to the conclusion that for at least this season, there are two teams that I'm just not going to get upset over losing to.  One is the Boston Bruins.  The other is the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Those two teams, in my opinion, are odds-on favorites to be playing in the Eastern Conference Finals this spring.  They're the best that the East has to offer, and the Blue Jackets aren't close to being the best.  So be it.

How Dion Phaneuf got me interested in the Winter Olympics

The whole NHL-Olympics thing baffles me.

I mean, here we are.  We have The Best League in the world for a genuinely great sport.  The league has created a playoff system that just screams passion and competition, and the regular season builds up to those playoffs like a crescendo every spring.  90-95% of the best players in the world play in this league.  This is the pinnacle.  It doesn't get any better.

Yet, strangely, the NHL world revolves around the Olympics.  I don't get it. 

Sure, I want the United States to do well.  I'm an American; I want to see my country clean up in gold medals.  But I don't see how a quadrennial tournament that upends the premier league's own schedule (and probably will affect the outcome of that schedule this season) is worthy of the attention it receives.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Gallos' Thoughts on Game 29: Wild

Last night the Columbus Blue Jackets defeated the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in front of a snowpocalypse dimmed crowd of around 11k.  Small for a Friday night, good for a snowpocalypse.  I know we made the trip because we knew the Minnesota people would make fun of us.  And, as I pointed out to my number 1 son, snow in Minnesota is completely different than snow in Ohio, as it is generally colder.  But he pointed out that wasn't the case in Buffalo, and that he had already been taunted by someone from Buffalo.  So off we went.

The first highlight of the game came during the scoreless first period, when I scored my Christmas present, my new Nick Foligno, number 71 jersey.  I thought to myself, 'it sure would be nice if Nick would score a goal to christen this baby', and I didn't have long to wait.  Now I didn't come to this decision lightly, or because he scored that beauty of a goal the other night.  I've been leaning this way for awhile.  I was thinking I wanted a white away Jersey as a complement to the others in my collection, but in the end I decided that white was not compatible with my eating habits, and BBQ spotted is not a traditional CBJ color.  Hmmm.  Maybe those camo jerseys.....

Even though the first period remained scoreless, the Jackets were skating well, and generating some offensive pressure, so it was a good period.  Then things changed in the second period.  At the 1:17 mark of the second period, Cam Atkinson got a good feed from Dubinsky as they went storming down ice
.  As he got to the top of the circle, he snapped off a wrist shot in mid-stride, and beat Backstrom far side corner, top shelf.  Backstrom seemed a bit surprised by the shot, and more so that it went in the goal.

Four minutes later, with Matt Cooke in the penalty box for hooking, Nick Foligno christened my new sweater by scoring from the edge of the crease for a power play goal.  The assists went to Johansen and Umberger, and Nick earned the goal by potting a rebound from the edge of the crease.  Later in the second period, consecutive penalties by Anisimov and Dubinsky gave Minnesota over a minute of 5 on 3 power play, but they couldn't do anything with it, and the penalty kill did the job. Really nice work by Tyutin as the sole defenseman for the 5 on 3 part.    The CBJ entered the third period with a 2-0 lead.

After what seemed a slow start to the third period, the CBJ got rolling again.  After the Wild killed an early penalty, Comeau, Anisimov and Jenner came down the ice.  Arty set up Jenner with a beautiful cross ice feed and his wrist shot beat Backstrom to give the CBJ a 3-0 lead.

At about the midway point of the third period, Johansen fed Foligno for a break away, and as Foligno came in on the net he dropped a backhanded pass to Umberger, who only had to keep his stick on the ice for the goal.

Leading 4-0, the Jackets tightened up and kept the pressure on with the focus on preserving McElhinney's shut out.  The CBJ kept up sustained pressure even until the final minute, which found them with multiple offensive chances as the clock wound down.  It was a very complete win for the CBJ.  Foligno had a goal and an assist.  Johansen had 2 assists to break his personal record for points scored in a season after only 29 games in an 82 game season.  It is very enjoyable watching Johansen's development.  He is gaining confidence in his ability, and playing with authority.  It is GREAT to see.

Back to back shut outs allow the CBJ to maintain pace in the Metro, 3 points out of third place.  The CBJ will need to string together a bunch of W's just to maintain their position in the wild Metropolitan division, as you can expect just about all of these teams to shake off poor starts and start winning.  It should be interesting from here.

Game haiku:
Wild beats Chicago
Runs into Jackets buzz saw
Wild leave town tamed

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Ascension of Curtis McElhinney

Curtis McElhinney in training camp
Today the news broke that Sergei Bobrovsky, the Blue Jackets Vezina trophy winning goal tender is out for 4-5 weeks with a bad groin, pulled last night in the Tampa Bay game.  Enter Curtis McElhinney who now assumes the reins of the starting goal tender position.  This is a tremendous opportunity for CMac, and as a fan, I'm actually pretty optimistic about how he will perform.

Yes, I do tend towards optimism, undeniably.   Though to balance that, I did jump on the 'Fail for Nail' bandwagon before Halloween in Arniel's last year.  I know a dead horse when I see one.  And CMac is no dead horse.

Consider the magnitude of this opportunity for CMac.  We picked him up at the trade deadline in 2011-12 as part of the Antoine Vermette trade to Phoenix, along with a 5th round pick and a bag of pucks, or something like that.  You see McElhinney was on injured reserve at the time, recovering from hip surgery.  He finished the year on injured reserve, and his contract expired.  That summer, with the lockout looming, he signed a two-way contract with Columbus, and when labor strife emerged, he started the year in Springfield.
Mike McKenna, called up to back up CMac

And things went well for him in Springfield.  The Falcons were winning, with Joey, Cam, Prout, and others bolstering the lineup.   Then finally the lockout ended, and the abbreviated 2012-13 season started.  McElhinney remained down with Springfield as the starting goal tender.  He needed to prove he was durable.  He posted a .923 Save Percentage and a 2.32 Goals Against Average (GAA), and backstopped Springfield to their first playoff appearance in a long time.  Pretty good numbers, a very creditable performance.

At the end of the year, with his two way contract expiring, Jarmo signed him to a one year-one way NHL contract, because basically, he earned it.  CMac has played well through camp, and in the games he has played in this year.  This has been a very long road for McElhinney, and now he has an opportunity to show that he can be a winning NHL goal tender.  And I think he is ready to seize this opportunity.

Mike McKenna has been called up to back-up CMac.  He is coming off a goal tender of the month award in Springfield, and currently is sporting a 1.91 GAA I believe (couldn't find his numbers at the last minute).  I thought McKenna played well in camp, and this represents a great opportunity for him as well.  I think he is poised to make the most of this chance.

So all is not lost in CBJ land.  We have guys who are ready to step in and do the job.  Now we get to see how it works out, but there is no reason at this point to be unduly pessimistic.

Good luck Curtis.  This is a great chance!  Make the most of it!


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

So DBJ has a little sumthin' sumthin' on CBJ Game 28: Tampa Bay

Columbus 1 - Tampa Bay 0
The Columbus Blue Jackets continued their November "win one, lose one" cycle into December by rebounding from a loss to the Bruins in Game 27 with a win over Tampa Bay tonight, 1-0, at Nationwide Arena.

The most notable takeaway from this game came in net: Sergei Bobrovsky crashed back into the net awkwardly at 15:47 of the third period and had to be helped from the ice.  Coach Todd Richards said that Bob will be getting an MRI tomorrow, so nobody has an exact idea what's wrong at this point.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Commodore Speaks

I chose this graphic because it speaks to how much
Arniel needed a big physical stay at home defenseman
Over on a Montreal Canadiens blog, Ian Hermelin has posted a comprehensive interview with Mike Commodore.  Check it out, here.  It's an excellent, wide ranging interview.  It speaks for itself, and I sure hope it doesn't do Commodore any harm.  The NHL can be a bit of an old boys club, and if you really have to guard your words.  But he answers some questions for Blue Jackets fans, no doubt.

I used the graphic at the right because I made it up near the end of the 2010-11 season, when Scott Arniel's team simply could not defend the crease.  By this time in that season he had chased his big physical, stay at home defenseman into the press box and the minors.  The letters in the graphic indicate the location from which a variety of teams had scored, with each team being a different letter.  Needless to say, this graphic did not document a winning streak.

In the late spring of 2011 my frustration with the situation boiled over, and I ended up writing an incredibly childish and stupid blog post focusing on Mike Commodore.  And he called me on it, which in the end I appreciated.  Let's be clear.  I was really wrong, it was poorly done, and I pulled the post.  And I feel I really wronged Commodore.  That feeling is magnified now, in retrospect.

Mike demanded to talk to me, through DBJ, and it was a reasonable request.  So I manned up, in spite of a great deal of trepidation that does me no credit, and made the call.  And Commodore was incredibly gracious about the whole thing.  I did have the faint wisdom to start out the conversation saying that I was a season ticket holder, but I also told him I was wrong, and characterized my blather as a rookie mistake.  He was very accepting of my excuses, and we had a good conversation after that.

We talked about a lot of things, but there is one thing I want to make clear.  He refused to say anything negative about Arniel, or the organization, which I thought was wise in him.  I think enough time has gone by for him to be forthright in his opinion in an interview, but it would not have been good at that time.

We talked a lot about how hard he had worked getting ready for the star crossed 2009-10 season, but how he had pulled a groin in training camp, and never seemed to get past injuries that year.  We talked about 2010-11, and how he got benched even though his stats were pretty good.  Which was completely true.  That was the year that started in Sweden.  And he broke a finger in the second game.  He came back, played reasonably well, but suddenly was in the press box.  And before long, Arniel had him earmarked for the minors.

Which is a shame, because when you look at that chart up there, we really could have used Mike Commodore patrolling the slot in front of our goal.  Howson totally bears the blame for this, as he never should have given up on Hitchcock in the first place.  And he is squarely responsible for the disastrous Arniel hiring, that set the franchise back 3 years (or more).

So Mike.  Best of luck to you in the KHL.  Have fun, and be yourself.  Thanks for the kind words about my City.  I wish it hadn't ended the way it did here.  But at least the 'why' is a little clearer today.  Hope you win the Norrisolov trophy, or whatever it is over there.

And thanks once more for the playoff run in 2008-09.  That was a beauty.